In another month or so, my murdery mystery, Style and the Solitary, will be republished under the Ocelot Press banner.
I thought this would be a good time to tell you what the novel is about, tweaking a post I first wrote for friend and author, Jo Fenton.
Belief in Another Person
The story of Beauty and the Beast was first written in 1740 by a woman called Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It wasn’t intended as a children’s fairy tale, but rather as a tale with a moral. It is Beauty’s belief and love for the Beast that turns him back into a prince. Similarly, Nathalie’s belief in Asaf will help him in his attempt to become the person he was meant to be.
The similarity of my novel to Beauty and the Beast is, of course, the reason for its similar title.
People who shun society are considered strange by the rest of society. Sometimes, they might even be thought dangerous, due to a tiny minority of loners who have turned to violence. This gives vulnerable people, who probably only chose to live their lives alone because of bad experiences, less of a chance of ever returning to society.
We all need the help of friends. Nathalie gets her two flatmates on board to help her solve the mystery. Other friendships crop up in the story. Even Asaf, the “loner”, acquires some friends, eventually.
The process of fitting into a new place can be long and difficult, especially when it involves a new language and culture. Nathalie has some advantages. She’s young, sociable and good at languages. Still, she struggles sometimes, and also misses her family and her home town of Strasbourg. Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market brings a bit of France to her.
The Law and its Failures
I was moved by a documentary I heard once, in which a woman wanted to testify against her rapist, but found herself struck dumb when standing in the witness box. Asaf is similarly worried about being tried in a court of law. He thinks he’ll find himself incapable of answering questions in such a setting. He’s probably right.
I do think laws fail to protect those who can’t speak or who freeze in certain situations.
Why is the setting a theme? When I wrote my first novel set in Jerusalem (Neither Here Nor There, currently unavailable), I was worried people wouldn’t be interested in it because they’d expect a story set in Israel to include war and conflict. I was glad to be proved wrong; the book sold well and was appreciated. Yet, with this current novel, perhaps due to the timing, I’ve had questions like, “I wondered if you were deliberately setting out to show Jerusalem as a modern ‘Western’ city compared to the views we normally see on TV, or just reflecting life as you live it.” My response is that it absolutely reflects life as I live it and as most of the residents live it. People go about doing normal activities and talking about normal things. On the TV, they like to show everything in a different light. They seek out extremists and do all they can to exacerbate conflict. But even those extremists do and say normal, mundane things most of the time. And the rest of us go about our normal lives as much as we’re allowed to, which is most of the time.
I’m not suggesting murder is normal. But this murder is not the sort of abnormal you might expect from Jerusalem.
Many stories thrive on secrets and Style and the Solitary is no exception. But I won’t reveal any secrets here. You’ll discover them when you read the novel.
What would Asaf think of the book?
Asaf would consider himself unworthy of having a story written about him, just as he feels unworthy of having Nathalie in his life. He blames no one but himself for his woes. Being suspected of murder is admittedly unfortunate, but anyone else would have succeeded in clearing all suspicion long ago.
The new Style and the Solitary will be out soon. Watch this space.
The Strasbourg image is by Monika Neumann from Pixabay. Nathalie’s photo is by Andrea Piacquadio and Asaf’s is by fauxels.
That’s all I remember of the nursery rhyme about the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 by Guy Fawkes and others. I don’t know if it’s still recited, but Guy Fawkes Night is definitely still celebrated with bonfires and fireworks. Of course, like all festivals, it has unfortunately become more commercialised than it was when I lived in the UK.
But this post isn’t about Guy Fawkes Night. It’s about the month of November and how I’ll be spending it.
As I’ve been doing for several years, I’ll be writing a novel. Unlike in previous years, this won’t be part of NaNoWriMo, or at least part of that organisation. As I explained in a previous post, although not in detail, I left the organisation in July. I considered writing more about my reasons today, but really, that’s not what this blog is about.
So, I’m calling it MyNoWriMo. The ‘National’ part of the name hasn’t been true for a long time, anyway.
I have a spreadsheet ready to record my daily word counts and show them in graphs. I have a name (which I’m not ready to reveal) and a temporary cover.
I also have lots of plans and ideas for this sequel to Style and the Solitary. Today, I read about the lion and the lamb, and the lion of Judah. They might just fit into the novel, somehow.
Our local group of writers has been getting more active lately, and I’m looking forward to all the encouragement and help it provides during November.
If you’re also writing a novel in November, I wish you lots of luck. If not, well I hope you manage to enjoy November nonetheless. 😉
I was looking forward to reading an extract from my novel, but not so much to tackling questions. In fact I was sure I’d mess that part up. I was ready to say, “I haven’t done your question justice, but I’d be happy to answer it properly on social media.”
In the event, there were no such problems and I managed to answer fairly well. But there was a different problem. There were several questions that I didn’t get to answer, many of which I didn’t even have a chance to see.
So, I’m opening this post up for the questions that weren’t answered, and for questions that weren’t asked before. Ask, in the comments below, about Style and the Solitary. Ask about me as an author, or as a person. With time to consider my responses, I’m likely provide a more satisfactory answer, anyway. I’ll reply to the comments or write one or more separate posts in response if the question warrants it.
What you should know about Style and the Solitary
It’s a murder mystery
It’s set in Jerusalem
It includes a romance
One character has social anxiety
One character is a new immigrant from France
It involves the power of belief
And many thanks to all those who attended the event and those who tried but failed.
Since my last post about Style and the Solitary, there have been several developments. I’m going to copy from the post and add to it.
Thanks again to Melina Kantor and Shoshana Raun, whose prompts and other writing suggestions helped to craft the plot much more than I’d expected. Joan Livingston, who read and commented on my draft, and also wrote the cover line and the brilliant foreword. And Stephanie and Laurence Patterson of darkstroke books whose editing and cover design were magnificent.
Also to all those who have opened up (or will open up) their blogs for me:
You can come to today’s Facebook Launch. Click now and press Going. There will be information about the book in text, photos and music, and plenty of interaction, including a competition.
You can come to the joint online launch event called Ladies Who Launch, where three darkstroke authors will introduce our new books with readings and answer questions. It’s on 6th May. Click now to secure your free ticket.
My little French visitor has written a letter. That surprised me until I discovered it’s an assignment from his teacher. He and his classmates were asked to write a letter of introduction, telling a little about themselves and then something of what each of them wants for the future.
Chère Madame Noyer,
My name is Pierre Mancelle and I am eight years old. I live with my parents in the village of Messandrierre. My maman is a music teacher but not in a school. She has students who come to the house and sometimes she goes to their houses. Sometimes she teaches in school when another teacher is sick. My papa sings at the opera house in Marseille, so he is often away. But I have my own phone now so that I can talk to him when he’s not in rehearsal or on stage. We have an apartment in Marseille that is near the opera house and also close to the old port. Papa lives there when he’s singing but comes home when he’s not. He also goes to Lyon and Paris to sing too. He’s not famous or anything like that. He’s a tenor and he sings as part of the company, but he does understudy sometimes.
I like music, but not opera, it’s too complicated. I like playing my recorder. I also like riding my bike around the village and going on patrol with Gendarme Jacques Forêt, except he’s not a gendarme in the village any more. He works in Mende now. So I have to do my detective work with Gendarme Clergue instead. He’s OK… but it’s not the same.
Just like at home. It’s not the same. The family is changing. It’s always been only me and maman and papa, but soon I won’t be on my own any more. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Maman says, that as the eldest, I will have to take on new responsibilities. Papa says that I will still be ‘the man of the house’ when he isn’t there. And grandpapa says that I will always be just as precious to maman and papa as I always have been. But I’m not so sure…
I know I want to be a detective like Jacques. Maman says I have to call him Monsieur Jacques. But he lets me call him Jacques when its just us two and when he was a gendarme he let me call him Gendarme Jacques when we were working on cases together. But now he’s working in Mende I only see him at weekends when he brings Madame Elizabeth to the village. I wish I could see him more often because he would know what to do. He knows what to do about everything. He would know what to do about one of the boys who are always hanging around outside school. A boy I don’t like….
Ah, I was wondering when he’d get to the point, if ever. If you want to know more, you can find out in Montbel by talented Crooked Cat author, Angela Wren… that is, you will be able to when it’s released on 13th November.
A clear-cut case?
A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.
When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques’ papers and shut down the investigation.
Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?
Montbel is the third Jacques Forêt mystery and can be found on Amazon.
This might be the end of Letters from Elsewhere. I feel it’s time for something new. But not just now. I’m too busy working on my own future at the moment. So, don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for a while, but don’t be surprised if you do. And I’ll still be around on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.